Sister Act – the Culmes of Tothill

July 11, 2021 at 1:16 pm (history, news, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , )

While searching one of my favorite searches – John Hobart Culme Seymour, a good search because it’s a long name, an “unusual” name, and does often bring up something about the Rev. Sir John Culme Seymour instead of children or (what’s worse!) junk results – I found a most useful and interesting article.

The name “Culme” turns up a 2017 local history article in the Sid Vale Association‘s journal “Past, Present, Future”.

It seems the Sidmouth Museum has a little sketchbook – something acquired in the 1970s – once belonging to Fanny Culme, the sister of Elizabeth Culme, the first wife of Sir John Seymor, and the 2nd “Lady Seymour” (following John’s own mother).

The article is illustrated by two watercolors (evidently dating to c1819) of the area around Sidmouth; and – most tantalizing – a self-portrait of Frances Goddard Culme, aged 17. The article, by Rab and Christine Barnard, is called, invoking this self-portrait, “The Girl in the Mirror” (see pp. 34-35).

It is most interesting to me, as a researcher trying to track down such items as sketchbooks and portraits, to read that when it was first acquired, the book was thought to belong to someone named “Fanny Coulter.” By the time the book was catalogued the last name had been guessed at as “Culine.” One can readily see in the lumps comprising the “m” of CULME how this could have segued into the odd name of Culine – but thank goodness someone recognized the girl’s real identity!

The opening tale, too, indicates how spread out research items can be. Even local museums getting in on the act, which I hadn’t always anticipated, although I did recently learn of a sketchbook by the Smith sister Charlotte Judith Smith existing in just such a local museum collection in Tring. So, my eyes have been opened – but when fingers have to do the walking, the search is trebly difficult without someone prompting discovery with a well-timed “here’s what we (or I) have . . .”

Church, Kinwarton, Warcs.

I can add a bit of clarification to the assumption about Elizabeth Culme’s marriage. She and John Seymour married in April of 1833. I suspect that they performed a marriage visit to her family in May, thus the cry of “For Auld lang syne” from her sister. (Although Fanny also may have visited Elizabeth and John, an opportunity to see where her sister would be living.) I could relay more information if John’s brother Richard Seymour had made comments about their whereabouts, IF there weren’t pages cut out of Richard’s diary about the time of this marriage (mid-April is missing), as well as dates around mid-May.

There seems to have been a ‘stall’ in the engagement in early March 1833, but Richard is not specific as to the “obstacle” nor to the nature of Elizabeth’s “promise”. Richard received news, from his sister Dora (who was undergoing her own romantic tribulations…), a few days later that “Miss Culme had set aside her [……]” [=single word cut out here; I think it must be promise]. Since whatever Miss Culme set aside made the marriage ready to move forward, it cannot have been a promise to John. Had there been a promise to another man? (seems doubtful) Maybe Elizabeth had made some promise to her sister, Fanny? Though, according to the article, Fanny had already married in 1823 – and John Seymour surely held “good prospects” for Elizabeth’s future life as a clergyman’s wife.

Private “history” can be so mysterious, especially when trying to piece things together using the remains of secrets left standing in ephemeral items like letters – or (mutilated) diaries.

The article, too, helped to recognize what I had guessed at – the transcription of the word SOLTAU (Fanny’s married name). I especially was unsure of the last letter – “u” or “n”? Richard mentions Fanny Soltau in the period surrounding the death of her sister, in 1841. Elizabeth’s baby survived – and was named after her mother, though called for the rest of her life “Sissy” by her immediate family. Sissy and her two brothers were raised by Maria Smith, my diarist Emma Austen’s youngest sister, after Maria married Elizabeth’s widower in 1844. By then, Sir John had added “Culme” to his own last name of Seymour.

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A quick note should be made as to the position of the Rev. Seymour as Chaplain in Ordinary to the Queen. It was a mistake I myself made because of verbiage in certain write-ups about John Seymour. No queen in 1827. Sir John did serve as Chaplain in Ordinary to Queen Victoria, once she ascended the throne, a decade later.

In 1827, John Seymour was named Chaplain in Ordinary to the King, George IV.

Preference within the Church was of great concern for any English family with clergy sons to advance; John’s uncle Sir William Knighton was His Majesty’s Private Secretary. This last link will take you to Charlotte Frost’s website, where you have the ability to download her 2010 biography Sir William Knighton: The Strange Career of a Regency Physician for free. Or, follow the author on Twitter.

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Regency Diaries of Fanny Chapman (online)

July 30, 2015 at 7:03 am (a day in the life, diaries, history, news, people, places, research, travel) (, , , , )

Charlotte Frost (author of Sir William Knighton, The Strange Career of a Regency Physician) – always with her eyes and ears open for tidbits of interest to me, emailed me about this site which is SO terrific that I simply must share it.

fanny chapman

Fanny Chapman (pictured; click pic to go to site) is the author of a set of diaries spanning the years 1807 thru 1812 and 1837 through 1840 (as of July 2015, not yet online). I’m THRILLED because I’ve found brief mentions of Lady Colebrooke, wife of Sir George Colebrooke; grandmother of Belinda Colebrooke (Charles Joshua Smith’s first wife).

The fine “introduction”, which tells about the people and the diaries, can be augmented by another at All Things Georgian.

The Chapman diaries are well illustrated, and have been lovingly transcribed by George and Amanda Rosenberg — who would LOVE to hear from anyone with further glimpses of their own Fanny Chapman and her relations & friends. _I_ only wish my own stash of letters and diaries were as forthcoming on their behalf as their research as been for me (I do live in hope of uncovering more). But, while the Colebrookes were visited in Bath by the Smiths of Erle Stoke Park, the Smiths stayed home or were found in London; they never seem to have lived a time in Bath. Still, I do have NAMES now to be on the look-out for in the future.

prince of wales

From what I’ve read, you will not per se learn about the likes of the Prince of Wales, but the daily life of a sociable woman has its own rewards. The Diaries of Fanny Chapman is HIGHLY recommended – and the Rosenbergs are commended for offering these transcriptions and elucidations to the public.

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Free Book Download

January 15, 2014 at 9:14 pm (books, estates, europe, history, places, research) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Charlotte Frost, author of Sir William Knighton: The Strange Career of a Regency Physician (who was an uncle of Fanny’s husband, Richard Seymour), has mentioned a book that caught her eye:

Slavery-British-Country-House

Slavery and the British Country House is offered on the English Heritage website. Anyone with interest in “the English Country House” (Downton Abbey anyone?) will find something worth reading here. A lavishly-illustrated hardcover has been produced, but dip in to the *free* PDF of the text.

NB: I had to copy the full PDF address, go away from the site, and pop it in the address line. Try it, if you have problems downloading.

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A Studentship for Richard Seymour

August 29, 2013 at 10:08 pm (books, british royalty, diaries, history, people, research) (, , , )

Regular readers of Two Teens will know that a major source is the diary kept by the Rev. Richard Seymour of Kinwarton; the extant volumes span from 1832 until the 1870s. There are obvious volumes missing at the beginning of the series (or… dare I hope… in existence, but for some reason NOT microfilmed by the Warwickshire Record Office?). A great pity.

Richard_SeymourSo, imagine my thoughts, last night when I spotted a letter that mentioned him written by his uncle Sir William Knighton to Lord Liverpool, dated 1824!

(see Twitter and blog of Knighton’s
biographer, Charlotte Frost)

Richard’s brother, the Rev. John Hobart Culme-Seymour, certainly seems to have risen dramatically through the church’s ranks and perhaps Sir William’s influence at court was a help (could never be a hinderance, right?). Yet Richard seems so meek, mild, and willing to serve that I didn’t really think about any patronage he might have benefited from. Now, a little evidence of an “uncle-ly” helping hand (though Sir William doesn’t out and out say that he and Sir Michael Seymour married sisters). The book is The Letters of King George IV (volume 1: 1813-1830).

Sir William Knighton to the Earl of Liverpool, February 1824

The King has commanded me to write your Lordship a private letter on the subject of H.M.’s commands relative to the two studentships of C.C. {Christ Church, Oxford}. I explained to H.M. in the most detailed and accurate manner all that your Lordship had said on the subject in conversation with me yesterday; and I, at the same time, mentioned to H.M. what I had humbly presumed to advise the Dean of C.C. to do through your Lordship, and hence the Dean’s letter to me.

His Majesty, I am commanded to say, agrees in the general principle laid down by the D. of C.C. as it was urged and supported by your Lordship at our interview on that occasion. But H.M. will not, on this present occasion, forego his commands altho’ H.M. may not repeat such commands in future.

Sir H. Calvert’s son was promised by the King, three years since, at the earnest and affectionate solicitation of the Duke of York.

The King’s word was passed and the young man is under the influence of this promise. Under these circumstances the King is obliged to consult the delicacy due to his own feelings as well as those of his brother the Duke of York.

The King has long had the intention of fulfilling, for a variety of amiable as well as just reasons (which H.M. says it becomes no one to question) to command a studentship for Richard Seymour. He is one of eleven or twelve children, is on the foundation of the Charter House, there placed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and is at the head of the school. Sir M. Seymour, the father of this young gentleman, stands thus in the annals of his country. On the first of June he lost his arm. On commanding the Amethyst, frigate, he took the Thetis, French frigate, of superior force, in single action and had the medual [sic]. He afterwards, in single action took the Niemen, French frigate, of much superior force, for which he was created a Baronet. He continued to serve during the whole of the War, with increased reputation, and at the close was made Commander of the Bath. Now Sir M. Seymour commands the King’s yatch [sic]. It would be invidious to say the King’s favor was improperly bestowed on this occasion.

I am further commanded to state to you that it is now seven years since the King has commanded a studentship, which then was for Dr. Hook’s son, — the grandson of the late Sir W. Farquhar — and, moreover, this studentship was required of the late Dean by the application of Dr. Cyril Jackson, at His M’s. gracious commands.

The Alumni Oxoniensis contains the following information about the Rev. Richard Seymour:

CHRIST CHURCH, matric. 8 May, 1824, aged 18; student 1824-34, B.A. 1828, M.A. 1830, rector of Kinwarton 1834-77, hon. Canon of Worcester 1846-73, canon 1873, until his death 6 July, 1880.

As we all had already guessed: Richard gained his studentship.

signature_richard seymour

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Sir William Knighton now appearing on Weebly

June 2, 2013 at 2:00 pm (books, british royalty, history) (, , , , , )

Frost_Knighton

Author Charlotte Frost recently announced that her book on Sir William Knighton, entitled Sir William Knighton: The Strange Career of a Regency Physician, now has its own website! Read reviews, buy the book. I wait with great anticipation for her “outtakes” section. Sir William being Uncle to my slew of Seymour siblings: Richard Seymour, Sir John Culme Seymour, Frances Seymour, Dora Seymour.

You can read about Charlotte Frost on this two-part interview (links below) conducted with her not long after she informed TWO TEENS IN THE TIME OF AUSTEN that her Knighton biography existed. It was then, and continues to be, thrilling to hear about all aspects of this author’s historical investigations.

You, too, can be immersed in the world of Prinny / George, The Prince of Wales / George IV that Charlotte Frost has been uncovering.

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Gouveneur Morris meets Lady Cunliffe & Daughters

May 7, 2013 at 8:35 am (books, diaries, history, news, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , )

Thank you, Charlotte Frost (meet the author yourself, Dear Reader, on Twitter), for reminding me about a meeting that took place in 1790 in which Gouverneur Morris (famous to Americans) noted in his diary a meeting with my Lady Cundliffe (as he calls her) and her daughters, Mary (Mrs Drummond Smith) and Eliza (later: Mrs William Gosling).

morrisI typically put such comments into my “letters” files now; but this was a comment found so early on in the research (it began 7 years ago) that I remembered it having happened — but NOT what the man had written about them (that’s why I BUY books: to have them on the shelf to take down when I want them). In searching out the online book links for Charlotte Frost, I re-read the entry.

WOW!

“To-day [April 23d (1790)] I dine with my brother, General Morris. The company are a Lady Cundliffe, with her daughters, Mrs. Drummond Smith and Miss Cundliffe; the Marquis of Huntly, Lord Eglinton, General Murry, Mr. Drummond Smith (who, they tell me, is one of the richest commoners in England), and Colonel Morrison of the Guards. After dinner there is a great deal of company collected in the drawing-room, to some of whom I am presented; the Ladies Hays, who are very handsome, Lady Tancred and her sister, and Miss Byron are here, Mr. and Mrs. Montresor. I am particularly presented to Colonel Morrison, who is the quartermaster-general of this kingdom, and whose daughter also is here. She has a fine, expressive countenance, and is, they tell me, of such a romantic turn of mind as to have refused many good offers of marriage because she did not like the men. I have some little conversation with Mrs. Smith after dinner. She appears to have good dispositions for making a friendly connection, as far as one may venture to judge by the glance of the eye. Visit Mrs. Cosway, and find here Lady Townsend, with her daughter-in-law and daughter. The conversation here (as, indeed, everywhere else) turns on the man (or rather monster) who for several days past has amused himself with cutting and wounding women in the streets. One unhappy victim of his inhuman rage is dead. Go from hence to Drury Lane Theatre. The pieces we went to see were not acted, but instead, ‘Twelfth Night’ and ‘The Spoiled Child.’ This last is said to have been written by Mrs. Jordan. She plays excellently in it, and so, indeed she does in the principle piece.  Two tickets have been given me for the trial of Warren Hastings….” [pp 317-18]

Morris, from just this passage, seems to have had an eye for the ladies, don’t you think?

* * *

My two Cunliffe girls have short histories. Mary, who married Drummond Smith (brother to Joshua Smith – father of Maria, Eliza, Augusta, and Emma Smith – the girls of Erle Stoke Park, Wiltshire), was a new-ish bride. She had married in July 1786. Without a definitive birth date she was born circa 1762; her husband, born in July 1740, was about twenty-two years her senior! At this point in time, I have no real idea how the families met, why Mary Cunliffe and Drummond Smith married. I do know that Mary’s sister, Eliza Cunliffe, became a great friend to all the Smiths at Erle Stoke, though perhaps especially to second daughter Eliza (the future Mrs William Chute, of The Vyne).

It breaks my heart to think of Eliza Gosling, who married banker William soon after friend Eliza married her William (September 1793). She either was or came to be in fragile health. Eliza Chute worried about her having more children, writing that FIVE were enough in her nursery. The fifth Gosling child was my Mary Gosling (born February 1800) – obviously named for her Aunt and Grandmother.

But: Did Mary remember either her mother or her Aunt Mary? In December 1803, Eliza Gosling died. And by the end of February 1804 so had her sister! So it is with awe that I re-read Morris’ comments. This prior Mary Smith was destined never to become LADY SMITH; Drummond received his baronetcy months after her death. (Mary Gosling’s future husband would inherit the title from his great-uncle in 1816.) Simply WONDERFUL to hear that this Mary Smith seemed to have “good dispositions for making a friendly connection”.

morris2

NB: I am quite intrigued by his comment about the ‘monster’ on the loose.
I must find out more.

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Hmmm… whatever happened to ‘choosy’ Miss Morrison?

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Prior post on Lady Cunliffe

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Hear a letter from Augusta Smith to Eliza Gosling, 1797
(YouTube)

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Prinny’s Tailor

April 22, 2013 at 11:59 pm (books, british royalty, fashion, history, news, people) (, , , , , , )

Charlotte Frost (you will find fascinating items via her Twitter feed!) mentioned to me a wonderful WordPress blog on Louis Bazalgette (1750-1830), tailor to George The Prince of Wales.

additional items to peruse on the same subject:

Author Charles Bazalgette has been researching his ancestor for over fifteen years – turning up (among other items) original bank records — alas: with Coutts, rather than Goslings & Sharpe.

prinnys_taylor

as a P.S., you can read Charles Bazalgette’s review of Charlotte Frost’s biography of Sir William Knighton — who was uncle to Smith&Gosling in-laws Richard Seymour (husband to Fanny Smith) and Frances Seymour (wife to Spencer Smith).

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Churches Conservation Trust (UK)

January 9, 2013 at 8:23 am (europe, history, news, places, travel) (, , , , , )

When indefatigable Charlotte Frost tweeted about The Churches Conservation Trust, I just had to click and take a look. Very useful site!

tring-church-and-town

The above drawing is of Tring Church, a “Smith&Gosling” church – alas not listed. But the Churches Conservation Trust‘s interactive map means you can locate churches — and nearby attractions — but their location, or list churches and narrow your search. For instance, by such as “used as film location” or even “available for bell ringing”! Architectural style is, of course, available for narrowing – say you’d like to visit ALL the Trust’s churches that are Norman or Victorian… Or, maybe those known for their stained glass or carvings; screens or brasses; towers or clocks.

Thanks, Charlotte!

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National Portrait Gallery: reduces reproduction fees

August 25, 2012 at 9:30 pm (portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , , , , )

Charlotte Frost (Sir William Knighton: The Strange Career of a Regency Physician) sent the following link, knowing I had had my eye on a few portraits at London’s National Portrait Gallery. The article is entitled “NPG Changes image licensing to allow free downloads.”

Anyone who has visited (via website or in person) and wanted something reproduced, or simply for personal study, is sometimes looking at spending big bucks. It’s great to see some entity like the NPG responding to the needs of the non-commercial and academic user. May others soon follow suit.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever discussed here my own interaction with the National Portrait Gallery. An online acquaintance wrote to say that he had asked to see a “preview” before purchasing a portrait of the wife of his biographical subject. I had been waiting and waiting to see two portraits by the photographer SILVY purported to be of Maria Culme Seymour (née Maria Smith). Following my friend’s lead, I wrote – and waited; getting no answer. Wrote to a different email address and did hear back. Hurrah!

In return I was sent two tiny pictures. I fell in love with one of them – and yet the NAME on the photo puzzled me: Lady Maria Seymour. The inclusion of a first name, for a baronet’s wife, was highly unusual, even if Silvy, a Frenchman, was unaware of custom. My NPG contact said the identification was a process of elimination: no one else of that name.

I am still suspicious. I’d LOVE it to be Maria — Emma’s youngest sister — but believe the young woman portrayed probably is a daughter of the Seymour-Conway household. A young lady soon to be married, rather than a wife and mother.

Why my doubt?

Beside the name, there is a contemporaneous photo of the daughter of Maria’s cousin, Spencer, 2nd Marquess of Northampton. This daughter, Lady Marian Alford, is younger than Maria by a couple of years — yet she is the epitome of the “Victorian Matron”.

Weeks after receiving the small images from NPG, and declining to buy better (larger) images due to the uncertain nature of their identification, I was beginning to tell some people who had helped me in this project my reservations; I invited them to take a look for themselves — and that was when I found quite large (and very satisfactory!) images had been posted online! I still shake my head, wondering why I hadn’t been sent these same scans – and I suppose too (as I was told NOT to even KEEP the images sent me) puzzled as to why they posted them online at all.

I invite you, too, to look over the images of “Lady Maria Seymour” (portrait #655; portrait #656) — can YOU ID her??? and Lord Northampton’s daughter, Lady Marian Alford (sitter #631).

“Family” who are represented at NPG, in addition to Lady Marian:

Looking, tonight, I see that “Maria” is no longer ID’ed as Maria Culme Seymour! Wish someone had said…

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Frost Tweets: Regency Clothes on Pinterest

July 18, 2012 at 9:35 pm (europe, fashion, history) (, , , , , , , )

click to tweet with Charlotte Frost

Charlotte Frost, whose “tweets” are consistently informative, notified readers of this Pinterest board on LOVELY GOWNS pinned by Lady TranbyCroft.

The photos of vintage clothing are truly lovely.

The bulk of the gowns range in date from late 18th century well into the late 19th century, but it’s the simpler gowns from the Rengecy – when my girls were young, unmarried teenagers, that really grab my attention.

Among my favorites: the amber-colored gown with the lower skirt embroidery (beadwork?), pinned from the Republic of Pemberley. Also, the white gown “close-up” from the V&A, which really shows off the gown’s workmanship. And who wouldn’t notice a Union Jack gown if that walked into the room?!?

Don’t miss Lady TranbyCroft’s other boards, including one for Regency Men’s Fashions.

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